A survivor of torture visited Portland to deliver a warning to the Government over the Bibby Stockholm Barge.

On Tuesday, September 19, a survivor of torture visited Portland and said the barge reminded her "of prison".

Ever since the scheme was announced, campaigners at activist group Freedom from Torture have been warning the Government that housing torture survivors and refugees on barges is a “physical and mental health catastrophe waiting to happen”.

The Home Office has come under fire for several health and safety concerns since the Bibby Stockholm arrived in July, including from the Fire Brigades Union who condemned the barge as a “potential death trap”.

At the end of August, all 39 refugees were removed from the barge following the discovery of Legionella bacteria.

Freedom from Torture is calling on the Government to "urgently focus its efforts on rebuilding a fair, efficient and compassionate system that protects, not punishes, people".

Sepideh Sahar, A survivor of torture, said: “The barge reminds me of prison, I know how it feels to live in isolated and institutionalised accommodation, and I am deeply concerned by the decision to cram refugees onto a barge.

"It’s inhumane, unsafe and unacceptable.

"Once again, this Government has shown the world how cruel they can be to vulnerable people in their time of need.

"People fleeing torture and war need to be given sanctuary.

"Instead of being isolated in inappropriate accommodation, they need to be housed in the communities with access to support and services, where they can have a real chance to rebuild their lives in safety.” 

Ann Salter, Clinical Services Manager at Freedom from Torture, said: 

“Even before firefighters condemned the Bibby Stockholm as a “potential deathtrap”, and before life-threatening bacteria was discovered, we’ve been warning that packing refugees onto barges is a mental and physical health catastrophe waiting to happen. 

“The Government must abandon this plan immediately, and instead address the asylum backlog which has been allowed to spiral out of control. We need survivors of torture to be housed within the communities, where they have proper access to medical care, legal access and other services, and a chance to rebuild their lives.”